Port-au-Prince | Haiti activated the orange alert on Wednesday in the face of the arrival of a tropical storm and is preparing to protect its inhabitants from the heavy rains and gusts of wind expected this Thursday, while trying to contain the risks of contamination with COVID-19 .
“What is really to be feared is the train of misfortunes that can always occur when an event like this hits the country, but, this year, in addition, all this is complicated by the situation that created COVID 19 ”explained to AFP Jerry Chandler, director of Haitian civil protection.
The Haitian authorities are planning to open shelters in the northern half of the country, which would be the most affected by the bad weather, but the health management, still delicate, of these establishments is today a major challenge.
“The strategy is above all to prevent the shelter from becoming a source of spread for COVID,” says Chandler.
With less than 7,400 cases tested positive and 158 deaths officially attributed to COVID-19, the low virulence of the virus in Haiti is a “happy surprise” for the medical community who feared a massacre in this country with poor hospital infrastructure.
Before the arrival of the storm, in the northern departments, masks were distributed and hand washing stations installed in schools, sports or religious establishments that could accommodate people in difficulty.
“Our capacity is downright reduced due to COVID: a shelter which should receive 100 people can now only receive 50 to 60”, indicates the director of Haitian civil protection.
The first effects of the storm will be felt by midday Thursday and the disturbances which are expected to intensify until Friday morning, are likely to cause flooding and landslides.
Every year, from June to November, Haiti is under the threat of cyclones, but heavy downpours are enough to threaten the lives of the most disadvantaged citizens.